Karen Khounthavong BFA Thesis Spring 2013
I explore the history, form and usage of the English alphabet to better understand a graphic designer’s role as typographer and written communicator. It is important to understand that letters, together and individually, have unique meaning. The writing system that they make up speak volumes about the culture that they are set in. I nitpick the heck out of letters of the alphabet and share extreme minutiae that may or may not make you question whether you really “know your ABCs.”
The alphabet I use for the project portion is not English, but rather Laotion. It is a language I cannot read but still holds significance to me as a designer and a global citizen. The reason for this is to reconcile all parts of my heritage and give my descendants valuable information that can expire with the passing of time and relatives. I deal with the two things I know a good deal about: being the black sheep in the family and letterforms. I create an alphabet book that interweaves my family history and cultural knowledge for the purposes of passing down to generations. I use graphic design to capture a childhood and a family to create an intergenerational memory. The intent is to highlight the imperative that knowing one’s roots can be an emotionally intimidating but personally enriching experience. For the non-familial audience, I do not want to alienate them but rather inspire introspection of their knowledge of family relationships and investigation of shared history. In the fashion that a real relative might, I share with the audience a very long but lively story that you never asked me to tell you.